All posts by Paul Pryce

Breaking the Ice: The US Chairmanship in the Arctic Council

By Paul Pryce

Sometimes the best resources are not hidden behind a paywall but are freely made available to researchers. Thanks to the Congressional Research Service’s 114-page report Changes in the Arctic: Background and Issues for Congress by Ronald O’Rourke, with a recent version released in September 2015, such is the case for those wishing to understand strategic trends in the Arctic from the perspective of the United States. This is especially timely, as US President Barack Obama toured Alaska from August 31, 2015, becoming the first American president to visit America’s Arctic region. On September 4, just days after President Obama arrived in Alaska and the very same day the CRS released its report, five People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) vessels – three surface combatants, an amphibious landing vessel, and a replenishment ship – entered within twelve miles of the Alaskan coastline.

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The report offers a comprehensive overview of legislation and international agreements concerning the Arctic, as well as the economic opportunities yet to be realized in the Chukchi Sea, Beaufort Sea, and elsewhere in the region. Although Shell has since cancelled its plans for offshore drilling in the Chukchi Sea, oil and other commodity prices could at some point in the future return to levels where Arctic resource exploitation becomes profitable once again. Arctic shipping is also becoming viable – that much was made clear when MV Yong Sheng became the first container-transporting vessel to transit from its home port in China along the Northern Sea Route, Russia’s Arctic waterways, to reach Rotterdam, Netherlands in August 2013. It is this increased opportunity for business in the region which presents new challenges for the United States Coast Guard (USCG) and United States Navy (USN).

090321-N-8273J-254 ARCTIC OCEAN (March 21, 2009) Crewmembers of the Los Angeles-class submarine USS Annapolis (SSN 760) man the bridge watch after breaking through the ice during Ice Exercise (ICEX 2009) in the Arctic Ocean. Annapolis and the Los Angeles-class submarine USS Helena (SSN 725) are participating in ICEX 2009 to operate and train in the challenging and unique environment that characterizes the Arctic region. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Tiffini M. Jones/Released)
ARCTIC OCEAN (March 21, 2009) Crewmembers of the Los Angeles-class submarine USS Annapolis (SSN 760) man the bridge watch after breaking through the ice during Ice Exercise (ICEX 2009) in the Arctic Ocean. Annapolis and the Los Angeles-class submarine USS Helena (SSN 725) are participating in ICEX 2009 to operate and train in the challenging and unique environment that characterizes the Arctic region. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Tiffini M. Jones/Released)

As the report highlights, eight ships were lost in Arctic Circle waters in 2006. Less than a decade later, in 2014, there were 55 ship casualties in these waters. Thus far, the risk to human life and environmental impact of these accidents have been relatively limited, but it is apparent that US maritime forces currently lack the means to respond quickly and effectively to a serious disaster in the country’s Arctic waterways. The CRS highlights two capability gaps: basing and icebreaking.

Currently, the largest USCG base is located at Kodiak Island, which is on the south coast of Alaska near the Aleutian Range. USCG vessels operating from Base Support Unit Kodiak could respond quickly to an incident along existing shipping lanes near the Bering Sea but would need days or even weeks to reach the site of a ship collision or oil spill in the Chukchi Sea or Beaufort Sea. The US Army Corps of Engineers has been investigating the suitability of other Alaskan communities, specifically Nome or Port Clarence, as possible sites for a deepwater port from which USCG vessels could operate in the future. Located much further north along the Alaskan coast – jutting out into the Bering Strait in fact – either location would significantly cut down USCG response times in the Chukchi Sea. Port Clarence is already home to a small USCG presence: a 4,500 foot long paved runway capable of accommodating search-and-rescue (SAR) aircraft. Until a deepwater port is established within range of the Chukchi Sea, however, the US capacity to exert sovereignty in the Arctic will be severely limited.

The other capability gap identified in the report relates to the USCG’s shrinking fleet of icebreakers. After USCGC Polar Sea suffered an engine casualty in June 2010, the US has only the heavy polar icebreaker USCGC Polar Star and the medium polar icebreaker USCGC Healy at its disposal. Although Polar Star was refurbished and re-entered service in December 2012, this is only expected to extend the vessel’s service life until approximately December 2022. Unless Polar Sea is repaired or the White House significantly steps up efforts to acquire a new heavy polar icebreaker, the USCG could soon find itself unable to reach the US’ northernmost waterways due to sea ice cover. Much as the USCG is currently under-equipped to project American power in the Arctic, the USN also suffers a capability gap. The updated Navy Arctic Roadmap for 2014-2030, which was release in February 2014, acknowledges that opportunities for Arctic transits will be limited in the near term but commits to obtaining the capability necessary to operate for sustained periods in the Arctic by the 2020’s.

How the USN intends to attain this capability in the mid-term is unclear. In 2002, the Norwegian Coast Guard gained the icebreaking-capable offshore patrol vessel Svalbard, which has ensured a permanent presence for Norway in the Barents Sea and the Arctic waterways surrounding the Svalbard Islands. By spring 2018, the Royal Canadian Navy will begin taking delivery for the first of its new Harry DeWolf-class Arctic offshore patrol ships, a fleet of five to six vessels with some limited icebreaking capabilities and a similarly sustained presence in Canada’s expansive Arctic territory. The USN will presumably need vessels with characteristics closely resembling those of the Harry DeWolf-class and Svalbard-class; ice strengthening ships from the Military Sealift Command (MSC) as proposed in the Arctic Roadmap would very likely be insufficient, especially when China has demonstrated a willingness to engage in freedom of navigation operations (FONOPS) in American-claimed waters and the Russian Federation is aggressively expanding its already impressive icebreaking capabilities.

The Arctic Coast Guard Forum (ACGF), which was established in October 2015, will ensure some level of security for Arctic shipping and may even go toward reducing tensions in the region. Canada, which chaired the Arctic Council from 2013 until April 2015, endeavoured to establish just such a forum for exchange among the coast guards of the Arctic Council’s eight member states (Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia, Sweden, and the US) but was unable to bring the Russians to the negotiating table. The US, which will chair the Arctic Council until April 2017, is clearly willing to assemble a toolbox of so-called ‘confidence and security-building measures’ (CSBM’s) to ensure any future disputes in the Arctic are resolved peacefully. With the conclusion of an Arctic Search and Rescue Agreement (ASARA) in 2011, which clarifies which states have responsibility for SAR operations in certain Arctic waterways, there is clearly a growing interest in cooperatively policing Arctic waterways.

As outlined here, the CRS report is a valuable resource for those wishing to gain a strong basis of understanding with regards to the Arctic. Readers are fortunate, then, that an updated edition of the report continues to be released almost quarterly.

Paul Pryce is a Senior Research Fellow at the Atlantic Council of Canada and a Board Member at the Far North Association. He is also a long-time member of the Center for International Maritime Security (CIMSEC).

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Bangladesh and Asia’s Maritime Balance

By Paul Pryce

Most discussions of South Asian maritime security are dominated by the balance of power between the Indian Navy and its Chinese counterpart, the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN). On the one hand, India makes waves with its ongoing work on the Vikrant-class aircraft carrier, the introduction of the Arihant-class nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarine, and other efforts toward fleet expansion and modernization. On the other hand, PLAN vessels patrol the Indian Ocean region, which India regards as part of its sphere of influence, ostensibly to ‘combat piracy’. Prior to the 2012 establishment of INS Baaz – an Indian naval airbase in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, viewed by both the Chinese and the Indians as a chokepoint in the Strait of Malacca, the focus in South Asia was on the seemingly interminable Indo-Pakistani rivalry. But the maritime capabilities of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh, a country that occupies a geopolitically interesting location between South Asia and Southeast Asia, merits some attention.

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Facing the Bay of Bengal that separates India from Burma and encompassing the Ganges-Brahmaputra delta, Bangladesh certainly has need for a robust maritime force. As an emerging economy listed by Goldman Sachs among the Next Eleven (the list also includes Egypt, Indonesia, Iran, South Korea, Mexico, Nigeria, Pakistan, the Philippines, Turkey, and Vietnam), Bangladesh has the potential for considerable growth if Bangladeshi authorities begin investing wisely. With several procurement projects for the Bangladesh Navy close to maturity, they certainly seem to be moving in the right direction.
In 2016, Bangladesh expects to receive two Ming III-class diesel-electric submarines from China. These are heavily improved redesigns of the Romeo-class submarines introduced by the Soviet Union in 1957, each with a

Two Ming-class submarines (pictured) will join the Bangladeshi fleet in 2016
Two Ming III-class submarines (pictured) will join the Bangladeshi fleet in 2016

submerged displacement of approximately 2,110 tonnes. These will be employed principally as training vessels; Bangladesh has not previously boasted a submarine fleet of its own. The apparent intent is to subsequently acquire more advanced diesel-electric submarines from either Russia or South Korea. A likely contender, given the capabilities and size of the Ming III-class, is the Chang Bogo-class submarine, which South Korea-based Daewoo Industries is exporting for use by the Indonesian Navy.

Bangladesh is also expected to take delivery of two Jiangdao-class corvettes, each with a displacement of approximately 1,500 tonnes, from China by the end of 2015. An order has already been placed for an additional two vessels of this class. This makes Bangladesh only the second foreign buyer, after the Nigerian Navy, to acquire the Jiangdao-class. The delivery of these vessels will do much to modernize Bangladeshi capabilities at sea, as most of the other surface combatants currently operated are aging. BNS Bangabandhu, the Bangladesh Navy flagship, is currently the nation’s most modern vessel, having begun operational life as an Ulsan-class guided missile frigate built by South Korea’s Daewoo Industries in 2001. Others include two Jianghui III-class frigates and one Jianghui II-class frigate built by China in the 1980s, a retired Salisbury-class frigate built for the Royal Navy in the 1976 and sold to Bangladesh after its original retirement, and two retired Hamilton-class cutters from the 1970s that were subsequently donated to Bangladesh by the United States Coast Guard under the Excess Defense Articles program. A third Hamilton-class cutter may be donated to Bangladesh for conversion into a frigate in 2016.

Evidently, Bangladesh has been highly dependent on transfers of decommissioned military equipment but has recently become ambitious about acquiring off-the-shelf technology from China, South Korea, and to a lesser extent Russia. Of note, however, is the opportunity for the South Asian country to develop its own shipbuilding industry under the ‘Forces Goal 2030’ program. This initiative, introduced by the Bangladesh Armed Forces in 2012, envisions the country’s emergence as a regional power with dominance over the Bay of Bengal, but also includes more attainable goals like the development of a ‘blue economy’ by tapping into natural gas fields off the Bangladeshi coastline as well as the aforementioned development of the Bangladesh Navy’s Khulna Shipyard, not only to satisfy domestic demand but also potentially as an exporter of finished vessels.

Some of the fruits of that investment in Khulna Shipyard can already be seen. Rounding out the surface combatants available to the Bangladesh Navy, two Durjoy-class ‘large patrol craft’ (LPC) were completed in

The Durjoy-class LPC
The Durjoy-class LPC

2013. Based on the design of China’s Jiangdao-class corvettes, these LPC were homebuilt and are expected to be the first of a total complement of eight such vessels. The Maldives has already expressed interest in acquiring patrol craft from Khulna for its Coast Guard. The prospect of supplying foreign buyers represents a significant shift for both Bangladeshi military and industry; previously, the closest approximation to ‘shipbuilding’ was BNS Shah Jalal, a Thai fishing trawler seized in Bangladeshi waters in 1987 and put into service as a patrol craft before being converted into a diving salvage vessel in 1996, in which role it continues to serve as of this writing.

As it undergoes such rapid change, there is some question as to how organizational culture will cope. Bangladesh is notably avoiding the pitfalls of rushing into the purchase of new submarines, ensuring it first has adequately trained personnel to operate such vessels. But it is also worth noting that Forces Goal 2030 does not include any procurement projects for the Bangladesh Coast Guard, whose newest vessels are re-commissioned Minerva-class corvettes from Italy. One can surmise from this that Bangladesh intends to employ its Coast Guard for riverine patrols, but that most of that responsibilities fulfilled by this branch offshore will gradually transfer to the Bangladesh Navy. Without a shift in organizational culture and necessary changes to naval training to account for this expanded role, the Bangladesh Navy could inadvertently contribute to increased tensions with other countries that share the Bay of Bengal, namely India and Burma. Claims of ‘dominion’ over those waters, coupled with a few heavy-handed confrontations, could be sufficient to jeopardize relations between Bangladesh and India at a time when the latter loans the former an average of almost $1 billion a year for infrastructure projects.

No matter the route Bangladesh takes with regard to the division of labour between its maritime forces, it is clear that this country does not receive sufficient attention in analyses of South Asian security. An emergent Bangladesh is unlikely to challenge India for supremacy in the Bay of Bengal, but it could tip the balance of power one way or the other in the struggle between China and India. Accordingly, other powers with a stake in Asia should keep an eye on Bangladesh’s fleet expansion and modernization.

Paul Pryce is the Senior Research Fellow for the Atlantic Council of Canada’s Maritime Nation Program and serves as Political Advisor to the Consul General of Japan in Calgary. He is a long-time member of the Center for International Maritime Security (CIMSEC).

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Tuning into Tunisia: An Assessment of Tunisia’s Naval Forces

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While much international attention is directed toward the flow of refugees from Syria and Iraq to Europe, which has prompted the partial suspension of the European Union’s Dublin Regulation by the German and Czech governments and even sent shockwaves through Canada’s ongoing federal election, hundreds of Libyans continue to make the perilous journey across the Mediterranean Sea. Kos Island has become famous around the world as the front line of the migrant crisis,

Migrants wait at a Lampedusa holding center. (Click image for source)
Migrants wait at a Lampedusa holding center. (Click image for source)

yet Italy’s Lampedusa continues to face an overwhelming number of both political refugees and economic migrants fleeing Libya in the wake of that country’s civil war and resulting unrest.

The Libyan Navy is in no position to be of assistance in managing the crisis. While it has a single Soviet-built Natya-class minesweeper still in operation, the remaining vessels of the Libyan Navy, comprised of a Soviet-built Koni-class anti-submarine warfare frigate and two Polish-built Polnocy-C-class landing ships, are reportedly undergoing refits in Malta and France. Though the Libyans doubtless possess some collection of small patrol craft, the force has thus far been unable to effectively police Libyan waters. In March 2014, an oil tanker from the rebel-held port of Sidra successfully evaded a Libyan Navy blockade, leaving a team of United States Navy SEALs to intervene and seize the tanker.

Fortunately, the Tunisian National Navy has proved itself to be a reliable partner in securing the Mediterranean and averting humanitarian disaster. In August 2015, Tunisia commissioned its first locally built patrol boat, Al Istiklal (Independence). This development made Tunisia the first country in the Arab world to develop a shipbuilding industry of its own and only the second in Africa, following South Africa’s lead. Reportedly, Al Istiklal is an 80-ton patrol boat that measures 26.5 meters in length and is 5.8 meters wide, enjoys a top speed of 25 knots and a range of 600 nautical miles, all while equipped with a 20mm cannon, two machine guns, and a thermal imaging camera. This expansion of  Tunisian maritime capabilities was bolstered by four patrol boats of unidentified classification from the United States Navy (USN) earlier in 2015, with a further three boats expected for delivery by the end of 2016.

It is difficult to accurately assess the size of the Tunisian National Navy, but best estimates place the total number of vessels operated by Tunisia at 40 gunboats or patrol

One of Tunisia's Combattante IIIM Class Fast Patrol Boats with MM-40 Exocet missiles. (La Galite 501 pictured)
One of Tunisia’s Combattante IIIM Class Fast Patrol Boats with MM-40 Exocet missiles. (La Galite 501 pictured). (Source: World Military Intel)

boats, one landing craft, and six other non-combat vessels. The largest vessel operated by Tunisia’s maritime forces, President Bourgiba, was a decommissioned Edsall-class destroyer escort, USS Thomas J. Gary, which was transferred to Tunisia in 1973 and rendered no longer operational by a severe fire in 1992, having served at sea for almost 50 years in total. Since then, the largest vessels operated by the Tunisian National Navy are its six Albatross-class fast attack craft manufactured in Germany by Lurssen, with a displacement of almost 400 tons each. In short, Tunisia’s maritime forces are non-expeditionary and have been focused entirely on coastal defense for more than two decades.

It is unclear whether the US sees the transfer of defense equipment like the aforementioned patrol boats as part of a broader effort to counter al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) or other militant Islamist groups. But it certainly has paid dividends in rescue efforts. As recently as June 2015, Tunisian patrol boats saved some 650 migrants and refugees bound for Lampedusa on unsafe rafts. A June 2015 attack on a Tunisian beach resort by Libya-based terrorists, in which 38 people were killed, demonstrated how closely connected Tunisia’s security is with that of its neighbors, Libya and Algeria. As such, Tunisia is bound to continue to play a significant role in securing the North African coast. Nonetheless, it would be prudent for European members of NATO to press for a formalization of this relationship, similar in many respects to the Tactical Memorandum of Understanding struck with the Kingdom of Morocco in 2009 to secure Moroccan participation in Operation ACTIVE ENDEAVOR, NATO’s ongoing maritime mission to monitor traffic and combat terrorism in the Mediterranean. With or without European recognition, Tunisia appears set to be a maritime leader in its own right.

Paul Pryce is the Research Analyst for the Atlantic Council of Canada’s Maritime Nation Program and a long-time member of the Center for International Maritime Security (CIMSEC).

The Influence of Han Feizi on China’s Defence Policy

Guest post for Chinese Military Strategy Week by Paul Pryce

There is much of concern in China’s Military Strategy white paper released by the Chinese Ministry of National Defense in May 2015. In particular, the notion of active defense extolled in the document arguably poses a far greater threat to the stability of the Asia-Pacific region than the reinterpretation of Article 9 in Japan’s Constitution. Coupled with other recent developments in the formulation and expression of China’s defense policy, there is a startling willingness to resort to the threat of force in order to resolve disputes. In July 2015, a meeting of the Central Military Commission announced that the People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) requires a stealth-capable strategic bomber with a minimum range of 8,000 kilometers and the capacity to carry a payload of more than 10 tons of air-to-ground munitions. Although this envisioned replacement to the Xian H-6K bomber would still have a range and payload capacity less than the Northrup Grumman B-2 Spirit that has been in service with the United States Air Force (USAF) for almost two decades as of this writing, the extended range would allow China’s bomber fleet to reach as far as Guam or Japan’s Northern Territories, also known as the Kuril Islands.

Xu Qiliang (L), vice Chairman of China's Central Military Commission, salutes China's President Xi Jinping (C) during the closing ceremony of the Chinese National People's Congress (NPC) at the Great Hall of the People, in Beijing, March 13, 2014. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon
Xu Qiliang (L), vice Chairman of China’s Central Military Commission, salutes China’s President Xi Jinping (C) during the closing ceremony of the Chinese National People’s Congress (NPC) at the Great Hall of the People, in Beijing, March 13, 2014.

This saber-rattling can be explained in part by examining a school of thought that has risen to prominence together with the People’s Republic of China’s fifth generation of leadership, of which Xi Jinping is a part. Since Mao Zedong, Chinese leaders such as Deng Xiaoping and Jiang Zemin promoted the virtues of Confucianism and frequently quoted from Confucian works in their public remarks. With an emphasis on community-mindedness and obligations to the authority of the state, Confucius seemed to offer the philosophical justification for the entrenchment of the Communist Party of China in all areas of Chinese life. But there has been a noticeable departure from this tradition under Xi Jinping, who has relied heavily upon references to the works of Han Feizi.

Han Feizi
Han Feizi, Public Domain

Believed to have lived from 280 to 233 BC, Han Feizi was one of the founding thinkers of Legalism, a meritocratic ideology that came into being during the Warring States period of China’s history and was formally adopted by the victorious Qin state. Han Feizi has been called China’s Machiavelli, concerned more so with the efficiency of the state than with any over-arching moral or ethical questions. One passage from Han Feizi’s essay “The Eight Villainies,” a quote the fifth generation of leadership has apparently taken to heart, reads, “It is customary with a ruler that, if his state is small, he will do the bidding of larger states, and his army is weak, he will stand in fear of stronger armies. When the larger states come with demands, the small state must consent; when stronger armies appear, the weak army must submit.” Han Feizi does not comment on whether the doctrine of might makes right ought to be; he simply regards it as a natural and unavoidable consequence of a system in which different actors hold varying levels of power. There is also no apparent role for soft power in Han Feizi’s worldview – the strength of a ruler and his state is directly tied to military strength.

The memory of foreign occupation looms large for many Chinese leaders. In 2010, a diplomatic spat emerged when Chinese officials asked visiting British dignitaries to remove their poppies, worn to commemorate Remembrance Day and the Commonwealth’s war dead, because it allegedly reminded them of the Opium Wars. Xi Jinping himself often evokes the century of humiliation and the supposed role of the Communist Party of China in restoring national independence. If we regard Chinese history from the 1840s to the 1940s in the Legalist context, China was made subservient because it was militarily weak in relation to global powers like the United Kingdom, France, Russia, the United States, and others. If the weak must do the bidding of the strong and China is militarily weak in comparison to American hyperpower, the conventional thinking among the members of the Central Military Commission is that the gap must be closed or else it will only be a matter of time before the United States dictates to China once again.

PLAAF Xian H-6M makes a turn over Changzhou city, Jiangsu. Creative Commons.
PLAAF Xian H-6M makes a turn over Changzhou city, Jiangsu. Wikimedia Creative Commons.

One need not look far for examples of this anxiety about the capability gap. Xu Qiliang, the vice chairman of the Central Military Commission, wrote in 2013 that the People’s Liberation Army cannot currently meet the needs of national security and requires rapid modernization to contend with “the world’s advanced militaries”. Even though China already possesses the means to deter military aggression from any of its neighbors, it is apparent that the fifth generation of leadership still regards China as vulnerable unless it has an equivalency to every tool in the United States’ security toolbox. After all, it is telling that Xu Qiliang does not regard China as one of the world’s advanced militaries even though the PLAAF’s contingent of Xian H-6K bombers places China in a very exclusive club – only the United States, the Russian Federation, and the United Kingdom can also boast having strategic bombers at their disposal.

It is also worth noting how the presentation of the most recent Chinese Military Strategy reflects Han Feizi’s thought. In another of his works, The Difficulties of Persuasion, Han Feizi writes that, “If you wish to urge a policy of peaceful coexistence, then be sure to expound it in terms of lofty ideals, but also hint that it is commensurate with the ruler’s personal interests.” Just as the white paper advances the ideas of active defense and bottom-line thinking, it also emphasizes China’s commitment to participating in United Nations peacekeeping missions, the role of the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) in counter-piracy efforts in the Gulf of Aden, and appeals to such values as “the peaceful settlement of disputes.” This reflects a growing awareness on the part of Chinese officials that the rest of the world is paying attention to what kind of actor China might become in the 21st century. The message, in many respects, is that the Chinese Dream is inclusive – other nations and societies can benefit from China pursuing its own national interests, such as the investment and increased security that might come to Djibouti through the proposed establishment of a PLAN base there.

It is vital that those studying or interacting with Chinese policymakers to consider the historical context for China’s policies and their ideological framework. The China threat narrative considers Chinese strategy within a strictly neo-realist prism that supposes conflict will inevitably arise from a shift in polarity in international politics. Rather, Xi Jinping and Xu Qiliang can be best understood by consulting Han Feizi. As such, the explicit reference to China in the United States’ most recent maritime strategy, A Cooperative Strategy for 21st Century Seapower, might not help matters. It indicates to the Chinese political leadership that Han Feizi’s view of international politics endures more than two millennia later – the strong will continue to dictate to the weak, and so the United States will continue to determine the outcome of any territorial dispute in the South China Sea or East China Sea so long as the capability gap with China persists. An appeal to lofty ideals in the U.S.-China relationship, rather than explicit reference to geopolitical changes, could have spoken to the fifth generation of leadership on a deeper level without alienating the US’ Asia-Pacific allies. For its part, the National Military Strategy of the U.S. released in June 2015 goes some way toward accomplishing this, balancing criticism of China’s actions in the South China Sea with assertions that the U.S. “support[s] China’s rise.”

It may be that the revised maritime strategy adopts a harsher tone toward China in order to generate political will among other countries to participate in what the original Cooperative Strategy termed the Global Maritime Partnership. By distinguishing the U.S. from China as far as adherence with international maritime law is concerned, the U.S. Navy demonstrates that it can be a more reliable partner than PLAN to such countries as the Philippines and Vietnam. Nonetheless, with China participating meaningfully in the Rim of the Pacific Exercise (RIMPAC) and other multilateral venues, there must be consistency in the message delivered by the U.S. at the strategic, tactical, and operational levels. Security in the Asia-Pacific region will not benefit from mixed signals delivered by any actor.

Paul Pryce is Political Advisor to the Consul-General of Japan in Calgary and a Research Analyst at the Atlantic Council of Canada. The views expressed in this article are his own.

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